nothing wrong with keeping your livery nice and clean

I was going through our Twitter feed earlier today and came across a comment regarding the Blackpool Transport Palladium livery.

The comment came from someone who (I think) is a bus enthusiast and it simply said 'Sorry but what was (sic) they thinking on that drab livery..? Nothing there attracts me to the bus'.

I'm not going to try and persuade you either way whether this person was right or wrong in their opinion, but I would like to cover a couple of things regarding the part liveries play in getting people on the bus and how there's is nothing wrong with an approach that favours simplicity.

A livery should be seen a company's shop window and everyone knows the best windows are ones that are clear and are see through. Yet many of today's liveries are what you could describe as 'busy'. Company branding, route branding, price points, free wifi messages, straplines etc all competing for a potential customer's attention during that small amount of time they might actually be looking at the bus itself.

Now compare that with the best shop fronts from the likes of Apple (and for those of you who say 'you can't compare Apple with a bus company', my answer would be 'why not?'). Apple has gone for clean, crisp and minimal approach with only their logo visible - proving simplicity can be remarkably effective.

So how would a normal person buy a product from the two companies in question?

Firstly Apple - You happen to be looking for a new tablet, someone at work mentions the new iPad is great and you Google it to find out more. Then you look on the Apple website to get a bit more in depth information and see what the damage might be price wise. On the way home that night you happen to pass a 48 sheet by the brand and the next day see a full page ad in GQ. What were the odds on that? Each time, the consistency of the branding is subconsciously impressing you, justifying the price you feel is a little excessive. Then, two weeks later, you decide to visit the nearest Apple store to have a play with the product itself. The bricks and mortar shop is a small, final piece of the jigsaw.

And now the bus. You get chatting to a bloke at the rugby and happen to mention the trouble you have parking near the ground on match days. He questions why you don't just get the bus when you can have a few beers and it drops off a short walk away. So a day or two before the next match you look up travel on the club's website and it tells you the number of the bus you need and where it goes from. You might even look on the bus operator's website to see how much a ticket is and whether you can pay with your card. Saturday comes, you get to the stop and you wait for the bus that has the same colours as the website and has your number on it.

So how important is the 'shop window' in the two purchase cycles? Looking how normal people buy products, I would argue not a lot. Yes, a livery should be on brand, yes it should be well designed but its importance if often overplayed - it's a small part of a much larger marketing cog.

And for what it's worth, I like the simplicity of the Blackpool Transport Palladium livery. Not to say I think it's perfect or there isn't room for improvement, but it definitely creates a point of difference in comparison to the competition of today.